8 million for “costs” such as expert witnesses, e-discovery, and jury consulting. Oracle’s claim for these broad-ranging costs was that the Copyright Act awarded “full costs” under 17 U.S.C. § 505, and that “full costs” must have a more expansive meaning than the “costs” typically awarded in other statutes and governed by 28 U.S.C. §§ 1821 and 1920. These “costs” are generally the costs of the court for handling the case and costs of witnesses traveling to court for trial — not a party’s out-of-pocket litigation expenses.
In Depth On March 4, 2019, the US Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision authored by Justice Kavanaugh in Rimini Street, Inc. v. Oracle USA, Inc., finding that the term “full costs” in 17 USC § 505 of the Copyright Act has no special, expansive meaning, but rather is limited to the costs specified in the general costs statute codified at 28 USC §§1821 and 1920. As Kavanaugh explained, the addition of the adjective “full” to the term “costs” (in the Copyright Act) is not enough to conclude that Congress intended additional costs, beyond those set forth in the general cost statute.
The Supreme Court unanimously decided two Copyright Act cases on March 4, 2019. In Rimini Street, Inc. v. Oracle USA, Inc., the Court held that the provision in the Copyright Act that gives federal district courts discretion to award “full costs” to a party in copyright litigation, 17 U. S. C. §505, covers only the six categories specified in the general costs statute, 28 U. S. C. §§1821, 1920. In Fourth Estate Pub.
On March 4, 2019, the Supreme Court of the United States decided Rimini Street, Inc. v. Oracle USA, Inc., No. 17-1625, holding that a court’s discretion under section 505 of the Copyright Act to award “full costs” to the prevailing party in copyright litigation is limited to the six categories of costs specified by Congress in the general federal costs statute, codified at 28 U.S.C. §§1821 and 1920. A jury awarded Oracle damages after concluding that Rimini Street had infringed various Oracle copyrights and violated certain California and Nevada statutes.
In so ruling, the Supreme Court expressly rejected the position adopted by some circuit courts that “registration” can be satisfied by the mere act of submitting a complete application to the Copyright Office. In Rimini Street, Inc. v. Oracle USA, Inc., 586 U.S. ___, the Court clarified that the award of “full costs” to a party in copyright litigation pursuant to 17 U.S.C. § 505 does not expand the categories of expenses that may be awarded as “costs” as enumerated in the general federal cost statute, codified at 28 U.S.C. §§ 1821, 1920. The Court further explained that an “explicit statutory instruction” is required to permit the award of such costs as expert witness fees, e-discovery expenses and jury consulting fees.
to enforce your rights against infringers, register your copyrights.Rimini Street: Cost Awards Limited to Specific Categories Rimini Street was found liable for infringing Oracle's copyrights, and the jury awarded damages and the district court awarded attorney's fees.9 The district court also awarded $12.8 million in expenses that Oracle had paid to its expert witnesses.10 Section 505 of the Copyright Act provides that "[i]n any civil action under this title, the court in its discretion may allow the recovery of full costs by or against any party . . . ."11 Rimini Street objected, arguing that "costs" are limited to the six categories specified in the general federal statute authorizing cost awards.12 Oracle argued that the term "full costs" under the Copyright Act allowed it to recover all litigation expenses, not only the six categories.13 The Supreme Court adopted the narrow reading of "full costs," holding that "full costs" means the costs specified in the general costs statute, 28 U.S.C. §§ 1821 and 1920.14 In the short term: The Rimini Street decision constrains costs to a narrow set of statutorily defined categories.
Rimini Street, Inc. v. Oracle USA, Inc. In Rimini Street, Inc. v. Oracle USA, Inc., the Court held that the Copyright Act’s provision for a discretionary award of “full costs” means all costs enumerated in the law and does not allow courts to award costs beyond the categories provided in the general “costs” statute (28 U.S.C. Sections 1821 and 1920).This means that prevailing parties in copyright actions cannot recover non-taxable legal fees, such as expert witness costs.
Summary The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday, March 4, 2019, held in a 9-0 decision that the term “full costs” in § 505 of the Copyright Act is limited by the general “costs” statute (28 U.S.C. §§ 1821 and 1920). For example, § 505 does not allow courts to shift expenses such as expert witness fees, e-discovery fees, or jury consulting fees.
In Rimini Street, Inc. v. Oracle USA, Inc., Case No. 17-1625, the U.S. Supreme Court considered whether the phrase "full costs" in Section 505 of the Copyright Act constitutes such an express authorization, thereby justifying an award of nearly $13 million in otherwise nontaxable costs to Oracle. While Rimini argued that "full costs" did not expand the standard set of taxable costs specified in the general costs statutes (28 U.S.C. §§ 1821 & 1920), Oracle argued that, in addition to those costs, the Copyright Act's reference to "full costs" authorized all costs the prevailing party incurred in the litigation, including expert witness fees, jury consultant fees, and e-discovery costs. Agreeing with Rimini, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously held, on March 4, 2019, that the word "full" was insufficient to justify the additional costs awarded to Oracle.
This award, which included costs of expert witnesses, e-discovery, and jury consulting, was affirmed by the Ninth Circuit. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that “full costs” under the Copyright Act only refers to six categories of recoverable costs outlined in the general costs statute, 28 U.S.C. §§ 1821, 1920. The term “full costs” in the Copyright Act means the costs recoverable under the general costs statute, and the word “full” grants no further authority to a court to award costs beyond those generally available.